Djokovic, the tournament top seed, qualified for third round by defeating Italian Andreas Seppi 6-1 6-4, while Nadal, seeded second, did the same to overcome also in straight sets, 6-4 6-3, the Finn Jarkko Nieminen.
The Spaniard, seeking his eighth consecutive title in Monte Carlo, returned to training last week after a right knee injury forced him to abandon his match against Andy Murray in the semifinals of the tournament in Miami. Nadal showed no signs of physical problems and reaped his victory number 40 consecutive clay in the glamorous Mediterranean headquarters, where he is unbeaten since 2005.
The Spaniard delighted the audience with some stunning shots on the run when Nieminen, the world number 48, he approached the net. Nadal’s next opponent will be Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan, who won by 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 to Italian Filippo Volandri.
Moreover, Djokovic, who wants to take the crown at Roland Garros champion Nadal after being in the last three editions of the Grand Slam, had a spectacular start in Monte Carlo that put him 4-0 up, but later lowered the intensity needed 88 minutes to close the match.
The Serb took the first set easily, but had to work much more in the second while Seppi, No. 44-ranked and had lost their six previous meetings with Djokovic, started to play more aggressively. Djokovic will now face Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov, who won the young Australian Bernard Tomic 6-2, 5-7 and 6-1.
In another confrontation, his compatriot Janko Tipsarevic, seventh seed, also turned in the third round after beating 6-2, 6 to 3 to Spanish Albert Montanes. In addition, the Frenchman Gilles Simon, seeded ninth, defeated without problems 6-3 6-0 to Portuguese Federico Gil, while compatriot Julien Benneteau 6-4 6-3 beat Austria’s Jurgen Melzer.